The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA or The BMA) is one of three major art collections in the city (there are many smaller ones). It’s one of two that doesn’t charge an admission fee, except for special events. (The other is the Walters Art Museum in the Mount Vernon section of the city).
Sisters Claribel and Etta Cone donated a major portion of the collection, including 500 plus works by Henri Matisse (they were friends) which means the BMA has the world’s largest private collection of his works. They also donated art by Picasso, Cezanne, van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, and other Modernists. One room in the John Russell Pope building features a recreation of one of the rooms from the Cone sisters’ home.
The Museum’s collection, which tops the 100,000 figure, covers art from the 19th Century, modern, and contemporary art. Besides the two main buildings, there’s also sculpture in the outdoor garden.
Two distinct architectural styles set the tone for the displays. The first is the original Pope building. One wall is more captivating than the next, but, I always say you should notice the flooring. Each gallery has a different inlay pattern and I find them as fascinating at the artworks.
When you walk into the “new” Contemporary Wing (new, as in 25 or more years ago), you feel an airiness that’s the result of the architecture. The “doors” are in the corners of the galleries, allowing the Museum to display large works in the center of the wall where doors normally would go.
Check the calendar for adult, family, and member-only events. Because volunteers (greeters and docents) are so important to the excellent experience enjoyed by visitors, the BMA is always looking for dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.
Plan to spend a little time for lunch at Gertrude’s, by famed chef John Shields. Then, spend some time at the gift shop where you can find books about the collection and special exhibits, and other items, many of them also based on the collection (think notepads, magnets, prints, and wearing apparel, among other things).
The Museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
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